Originally Posted by HarryT
I'm curious - how does writing reviews for money actually work? Surely it's next to impossible to write an unbiased review of a product if you're being paid by the product manufacturer or retailer to write that review, isn't it?
Basschick sounds like she might
be a journalist/musician who's paid to review third-party kit, which is something I've done as well. The real conflict is not between the writer and the company but rather the publisher and frequent advertisers (which often include the companies whose equipment is being reviewed).
Then, too, companies are more inclined to keep sending you kit if you continue to give them push quotes. Social historian Mark Dery, who used to write for Keyboard Magazine
, has had amusing things to say about that.
Still, gear confecters can overstep the line drastically on occasion (esp. small obsessive companies, in my experience), but you've always got your editor to right them if they refuse to listen to you.
I once had the head of an amp company try to get me to withdraw a positive review
because he didn't like my comparison of a previous iteration of the same model with his latest. I pointed out that each had its strengths, but that apparently wasn't good enough. He expected me to say the latest model was superior in every way because, in his mind, it was, and anyone else who thought otherwise was a fool.
Needless to bleat, the review was published as is. I didn't get any more breathless emails asking me to try out his kit after that.
So to answer your question, I don't think a paid review is necessarily more biased than anyone else's.
For me, the question is not which kind of reviewer or scenario is less ethical -- that's a would-be purist's revolving door -- but rather how reliable the person is who's writing the review. To know that, you have to look at their other reviews and decide for yourself.
Also: An uninformative review is often far less useful than one which is comprehensive but biased. You can disagree with a biased review, but if it happens to be informative, you'll at least know more about the purchase you're considering.